Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

A History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 1 by Surendranath Dasgupta

Part 1 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Produced by Srinivasan Sriram and sripedia.org, William Boerst and
PG Distributed Proofreaders.

nikhilam anujachittaM jnanasutrair naverya@h
sajabhiva kusumanaM kalandhhrair vidhatte/
sa laghum api mamaitaM prAchyavijnanatantuM
upah@rtamatibhaktya modataM mai g@rhitva//

May He, who links the minds of all people,
through the apertures of time, with new threads
of knowledge like a garland of flowers, be pleased
to accept this my thread of Eastern thought, offered,
though it be small, with the greatest devotion.

A HISTORY OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

SURENDRANATH DASGUPTA

VOLUME I

First Edition: Cambridge, 1922

DEDICATION

The work and ambition of a life-time is herein humbly
dedicated with supreme reverence to the great sages
of India, who, for the first time in history, formulated
the true principles of freedom and devoted themselves
to the holy quest of truth and the final assessment
and discovery of the ultimate spiritual essence of
man through their concrete lives, critical thought,
dominant will and self-denial.

NOTE ON THE PRONUNCIATION OF
TRANSLITERATED SANSKRIT
AND PALI WORDS

The vowels are pronounced almost in the same way
as in Italian, except that the sound of _a_ approaches
that of _o_ in _bond_ or _u_ in _but_, and _a_ that of _a_ as in _army_.
The consonants are as in English, except _c_, _ch_ in church;
_@t_, _@d_, _@n_ are cerebrals, to which English _t_, _d_, _n_ almost
correspond; _t_, _d_, _n_ are pure dentals; _kh_, _gh_, _ch_, _jh_,
_@th_, _@dh_, _th_, _dh_, _ph_, _bh_ are the simple sounds plus an
aspiration; _n_ is the French _gn_; _@r_ is usually pronounced
as _ri_, and _s'_, _@s_ as _sh_.

PREFACE

The old civilisation of India was a concrete unity of many-sided
developments in art, architecture, literature, religion, morals, and
science so far as it was understood in those days. But the most important
achievement of Indian thought was philosophy. It was regarded as the goal
of all the highest practical and theoretical activities, and it indicated
the point of unity amidst all the apparent diversities which the complex
growth of culture over a vast area inhabited by different peoples produced.

It is not in the history of foreign invasions, in the rise of independent
kingdoms at different times, in the empires of this or that great monarch
that the unity of India is to be sought. It is essentially one of
spiritual aspirations and obedience to the law of the spirit, which were
regarded as superior to everything else, and it has outlived all the
political changes through which India passed.

The Greeks, the Huns, the Scythians, the Pathans and the Moguls who
occupied the land and controlled the political machinery never ruled
the minds of the people, for these political events were like hurricanes
or the changes of season, mere phenomena of a natural or physical order
which never affected the spiritual integrity of Hindu culture. If after
a passivity of some centuries India is again going to become creative it
is mainly on account of this fundamental unity of her progress and
civilisation and not for anything that she may borrow from other
countries. It is therefore indispensably necessary for all those who
wish to appreciate the significance and potentialities of Indian culture
that they should properly understand the history of Indian philosophical
thought which is the nucleus round which all that is best and highest in
India has grown. Much harm has already been done by the circulation of
opinions that the culture and philosophy of India was dreamy and abstract.
It is therefore very necessary that Indians as well as other peoples
should become more and more acquainted with the true characteristics
of the past history of Indian thought and form a correct estimate of its
special features.

But it is not only for the sake of the right understanding of India

viii

that Indian philosophy should be read, or only as a record of the past
thoughts of India. For most of the problems that are still debated in
modern philosophical thought occurred in more or less divergent forms
to the philosophers of India. Their discussions, difficulties and
solutions when properly grasped in connection with the problems of our
own times may throw light on the course of the process of the future
reconstruction of modern thought. The discovery of the important features
of Indian philosophical thought, and a due appreciation of their full
significance, may turn out to be as important to modern philosophy as
the discovery of Sanskrit has been to the investigation of modern
philological researches. It is unfortunate that the task of
re-interpretation and re-valuation of Indian thought has not yet been
undertaken on a comprehensive scale. Sanskritists also with very few
exceptions have neglected this important field of study, for most of
these scholars have been interested more in mythology, philology, and
history than in philosophy. Much work however has already been done in
the way of the publication of a large number of important texts, and
translations of some of them have also been attempted. But owing to the
presence of many technical terms in advanced Sanskrit philosophical
literature, the translations in most cases are hardly intelligible to
those who are not familiar with the texts themselves.

A work containing some general account of the mutual relations of the
chief systems is necessary for those who intend to pursue the study
of a particular school. This is also necessary for lay readers interested
in philosophy and students of Western philosophy who have no inclination
or time to specialise in any Indian system, but who are at the same time
interested to know what they can about Indian philosophy. In my two books
_The Study of Patanjali_ and _Yoga Philosophy in relation to other Indian
Systems of Thought_ I have attempted to interpret the Saemkhya and Yoga
systems both from their inner point of view and from the point of view
of their relation to other Indian systems. The present attempt deals with
the important features of these as also of all the other systems and seeks
to show some of their inner philosophical relations especially in regard
to the history of their development. I have tried to be as faithful to
the original texts as I could and have always given the Sanskrit or Pali
technical terms for the help of those who want to make this book a guide

ix

for further study. To understand something of these terms is indeed
essential for anyone who wishes to be sure that he is following the actual
course of the thoughts.

In Sanskrit treatises the style of argument and methods of treating the
different topics are altogether different from what we find in any modern
work of philosophy. Materials had therefore to be collected from a large
number of works on each system and these have been knit together and
given a shape which is likely to be more intelligible to people
unacquainted with Sanskritic ways of thought. But at the same time I
considered it quite undesirable to put any pressure on Indian thoughts
in order to make them appear as European. This will explain much of what
might appear quaint to a European reader. But while keeping all the
thoughts and expressions of the Indian thinkers I have tried to arrange
them in a systematic whole in a manner which appeared to me strictly
faithful to their clear indications and suggestions. It is only in very
few places that I have translated some of the Indian terms by terms of
English philosophy, and this I did because it appeared to me that those
were approximately the nearest approach to the Indian sense of the term.
In all other places I have tried to choose words which have not been made
dangerous by the acquirement of technical senses. This however is
difficult, for the words which are used in philosophy always acquire
some sort of technical sense. I would therefore request my readers to
take those words in an unsophisticated sense and associate them with
such meanings as are justified by the passages and contexts in which
they are used. Some of what will appear as obscure in any system may I
hope be removed if it is re-read with care and attention, for
unfamiliarity sometimes stands in the way of right comprehension. But
I may have also missed giving the proper suggestive links in many places
where condensation was inevitable and the systems themselves have also
sometimes insoluble difficulties, for no system of philosophy is without
its dark and uncomfortable corners.

Though I have begun my work from the Vedic and Brahma@nic stage, my
treatment of this period has been very slight. The beginnings of the
evolution of philosophical thought, though they can be traced in the
later Vedic hymns, are neither connected nor systematic.

x

More is found in the Brahmanas, but I do not think it worth while to
elaborate the broken shreds of thought of this epoch. I could have dealt
with the Upani@sad period more fully, but many works on the subject have
already been published in Europe and those who wish to go into details
will certainly go to them. I have therefore limited myself to the dominant
current flowing through the earlier Upani@sads. Notices of other currents
of thought will be given in connection with the treatment of other systems
in the second volume with which they are more intimately connected. It
will be noticed that my treatment of early Buddhism is in some places of
an inconclusive character. This is largely due to the inconclusive
character of the texts which were put into writing long after Buddha
in the form of dialogues and where the precision and directness required
in philosophy were not contemplated. This has given rise to a number of
theories about the interpretations of the philosophical problems of early
Buddhism among modern Buddhist scholars and it is not always easy to
decide one way or the other without running the risk of being dogmatic;
and the scope of my work was also too limited to allow me to indulge in
very elaborate discussions of textual difficulties. But still I also
have in many places formed theories of my own, whether they are right
or wrong it will be for scholars to judge. I had no space for entering
into any polemic, but it will be found that my interpretations of the
systems are different in some cases from those offered by some European
scholars who have worked on them and I leave it to those who are
acquainted with the literature of the subject to decide which of us may
be in the right. I have not dealt elaborately with the new school of
Logic (Navya-Nyaya) of Bengal, for the simple reason that most of the
contributions of this school consist in the invention of technical
expressions and the emphasis put on the necessity of strict exactitude
and absolute preciseness of logical definitions and discussions and these
are almost untranslatable in intelligible English. I have however
incorporated what important differences of philosophical points of view
I could find in it. Discussions of a purely technical character could not
be very fruitful in a work like this. The bibliography given of the
different Indian systems in the last six chapters is not exhaustive but
consists mostly of books which have been actually studied or consulted in
the writing of those chapters. Exact references to the pages of the

xi

texts have generally been given in footnotes in those cases where a
difference of interpretation was anticipated or where it was felt that
a reference to the text would make the matter clearer, or where the
opinions of modern writers have been incorporated.

It gives me the greatest pleasure to acknowledge my deepest gratefulness
to the Hon'ble Maharaja Sir Manindrachandra Nundy, K.C.I.E. Kashimbazar,
Bengal, who has kindly promised to bear the entire expense of the
publication of both volumes of the present work.

The name of this noble man is almost a household word in Bengal for
the magnanimous gifts that he has made to educational and other causes.
Up till now he has made a total gift of about L300,000, of which those
devoted to education come to about L200,000. But the man himself is far
above the gifts he has made. His sterling character, universal sympathy
and friendship, his kindness and amiability make him a veritable
Bodhisattva--one of the noblest of men that I have ever seen. Like many
other scholars of Bengal, I am deeply indebted to him for the
encouragement that he has given me in the pursuit of my studies and
researches, and my feelings of attachment and gratefulness for him are
too deep for utterance.

I am much indebted to my esteemed friends Dr E.J. Thomas of the Cambridge
University Library and Mr Douglas Ainslie for their kindly revising the
proofs of this work, in the course of which they improved my English in
many places. To the former I am also indebted for his attention to the
transliteration of a large number of Sanskrit words, and also for the
whole-hearted sympathy and great friendliness with which he assisted me
with his advice on many points of detail, in particular the exposition
of the Buddhist doctrine of the cause of rebirth owes something of its
treatment to repeated discussions with him.

I also wish to express my gratefulness to my friend Mr N.K. Siddhanta,
M.A., late of the Scottish Churches College, and Mademoiselle Paule Povie
for the kind assistance they have rendered in preparing the index. My
obligations are also due to the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press
for the honour they have done me in publishing this work.

To scholars of Indian philosophy who may do me the honour of reading my
book and who may be impressed with its inevitable

xii

shortcomings and defects, I can only pray in the words of Hemacandra:

Prama@nasiddhantaviruddham atra
Yatkinciduktam matimandyado@sat
Matsaryyam utsaryya tadaryyacitta@h
Prasadam adhaya vis'odhayantu. [Footnote ref 1]

S.D.

TRINITY COLLEGE,
CAMBRIDGE.

_February_, 1922.

_____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: May the noble-minded scholars instead of cherishing ill
feeling kindly correct whatever errors have been here committed through
the dullness of my intellect in the way of wrong interpretations and
misstatements.]

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY.....................................................1

CHAPTER II

THE VEDAS, BRAHMA@NAS AND THEIR PHILOSOPHY

1 The Vedas and their antiquity.................................10
2 The place of the Vedas in the Hindu mind......................10
3 Classification of the Vedic literature........................11
4 The Sa@mhitas.................................................12
5 The Brahma@nas................................................13
6 The Ara@nyakas................................................14
7 The @Rg-Veda, its civilization................................14
8 The Vedic gods................................................16
9 Polytheism, Henotheism, and Monotheism........................17
10 Growth of a Monotheistic tendency; Prajapati, Vis'vakarma.....19
11 Brahma........................................................20
12 Sacrifice; the First Rudiments of the Law of Karma............21
13 Cosmogony--Mythological and Philosophical.....................23
14 Eschatology; the Doctrine of Atman............................25
15 Conclusion....................................................26

CHAPTER III

THE EARLIER UPANI@SADS (700 B.C.-600 B.C.)

1 The place of the Upani@sads in Vedic literature...............28
2 The names of the Upani@sads; Non-Brahmanic influence..........30
3 Brahma@nas and the Early Upani@sads...........................31
4 The meaning of the word Upani@sad.............................38
5 The composition and growth of diverse Upani@sads..............38
6 Revival of Upani@sad studies in modern times..................39
7 The Upani@sads and their interpretations......................41
8 The quest after Brahman: the struggle and the failures........42
9 Unknowability of Brahman and the Negative Method..............44
10 The Atman doctrine............................................45
11 Place of Brahman in the Upani@sads............................48
12 The World.....................................................51
13 The World-Soul................................................52
14 The Theory of Causation.......................................52
15 Doctrine of Transmigration....................................53
16 Emancipation..................................................58

CHAPTER IV

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE SYSTEMS OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY

1 In what sense is a History of Indian Philosophy possible?......62
2 Growth of the Philosophic Literature...........................65
3 The Indian systems of Philosophy...............................67
4 Some fundamental points of agreement...........................71
1 _The Karma theory_.........................................71
2 _The Doctrine of Mukti_....................................74
3 _The Doctrine of Soul_.....................................75
5 The Pessimistic Attitude towards the World and the Optimistic
Faith in the end...............................................75
6 Unity in Indian Sadhana (philosophical, religious and ethical
endeavours)....................................................77

xiv

CHAPTER V

BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY

1 The State of Philosophy in India before Buddha.................78
2 Buddha: his Life...............................................81
3 Early Buddhist Literature......................................82
4 The Doctrine of Causal Connection of early Buddhism............84
5 The Khandhas...................................................93
6 Avijja and Asava...............................................99
7 Sila and Samadhi..............................................100
8 Kamma.........................................................106
9 Upani@sads and Buddhism.......................................109
10 The Schools of Theravada Buddhism.............................112
11 Mahayanism....................................................125
12 The Tathata Philosophy of As'vagho@sa (80 A.D.)...............129
13 The Madhyamika or the Sunyavada school--Nihilism..............138
14 Uncompromising Idealism or the School of Vijnanavada Buddhism.145
15 Sautrantika theory of Perception..............................151
16 Sautrantika theory of Inference...............................155
17 The Doctrine of Momentariness.................................158
18 The Doctrine of Momentariness and the Doctrine of Causal
Efficiency (Arthakriyakaritva)..................................163
19 Some Ontological Problems on which the Different Indian Systems
diverged........................................................164
20 Brief Survey of the Evolution of Buddhist Thought.............166

CHAPTER VI

THE JAINA PHILOSOPHY

1 The Origin of Jainism.........................................169
2 Two Sects of Jainism..........................................170
3 The Canonical and other Literature of the Jains...............171
4 Some General Characteristics of the Jains.....................172
5 Life of Mahavira..............................................173
6 The Fundamental Ideas of Jaina Ontology.......................173
7 The Doctrine of Relative Pluralism (Anekantavada).............175
8 The Doctrine of Nayas.........................................176
9 The Doctrine of Syadvada......................................179
10 Knowledge, its value for us...................................181
11 Theory of Perception..........................................183
12 Non-Perceptual knowledge......................................185
13 Knowledge as Revelation.......................................186
14 The Jivas.....................................................188
15 Karma Theory..................................................190
16 Karma, Asrava and Nirjara.....................................192
17 Pudgala.......................................................195
18 Dharma, Adharma, Akas'a.......................................197
19 Kala and Samaya...............................................198
20 Jaina Cosmography.............................................199
21 Jaina Yoga....................................................199
22 Jaina Atheism.................................................203
23 Mok@sa (emancipation).........................................207

xv

CHAPTER VII

THE KAPILA AND THE PATANJALA SA@MKHYA (YOGA)

1 A Review......................................................208
2 The Germs of Sa@mkhya in the Upani@sads.......................211
3 Sa@mkhya and Yoga Literature..................................212
4 An Early School of Sa@mkhya...................................213
5 Sa@mkhya karika, Sa@mkhya sutra, Vacaspati Mis'ra and Vijnana
Bhiksu..........................................................222
6 Yoga and Patanjali............................................226
7 The Sa@mkhya and the Yoga doctrine of Soul or Purusa..........238
8 Thought and Matter............................................241
9 Feelings, the Ultimate Substances.............................242
10 The Gunas.....................................................243
11 Prak@@rti and its evolution...................................245
12 Pralaya and the disturbance of the Prak@rti Equilibrium.......247
13 Mahat and Ahamkara............................................248
14 The Tanmatras and the Paramanus...............................251
15 Principle of Causation and Conservation of Energy.............254
16 Change as the formation of new collocations...................255
17 Causation as Satkaryavada (the theory that the effect
potentially exists before it is generated by the movement
of the cause)...................................................257
18 Sa@mkhya Atheism and Yoga Theism..............................258
19 Buddhi and Purusa.............................................259
20 The Cognitive Process and some characteristics of Citta.......261
21 Sorrow and its Dissolution....................................264
22 Citta.........................................................268
23 Yoga Purificatory Practices (Parikarma).......................270
24 The Yoga Meditation...........................................271

CHAPTER VIII

THE NYAYA-VAISESIKA PHILOSOPHY

1 Criticism of Buddhism and Sa@mkhya from the Nyaya standpoint...274
2 Nyaya and Vais'e@sika sutras...................................276
3 Does Vais'e@sika represent an old school of Mima@msa?..........280
4 Philosophy in the Vais'e@sika sutras...........................285
5 Philosophy in the Nyaya sutras.................................294
6 Philosophy of Nyaya sutras and Vais'e@sika sutras..............301
7 The Vais'e@sika and Nyaya Literature...........................305
8 The main doctrine of the Nyaya-Vais'e@sika Philosophy..........310
9 The six Padarthas: Dravya, Gu@na, Karma, Samanya, Vis'e@sa,
Samavaya........................................................313
10 The Theory of Causation.......................................319
11 Dissolution (Pralaya) and Creation (S@r@s@ti).................323
12 Proof of the Existence of Is'vara.............................325
13 The Nyaya-Vais'e@sika Physics.................................326
14 The Origin of Knowledge (Prama@na)............................330
15 The four Prama@nas of Nyaya...................................332
16 Perception (Pratyak@sa).......................................333
17 Inference.....................................................343
18 Upamana and S'abda............................................354
19 Negation in Nyaya-Vais'e@sika.................................355
20 The necessity of the Acquirement of debating devices for
the seeker of Salvation.........................................360
21 The Doctrine of Soul..........................................362
22 Is'vara and Salvation.........................................363

xvi

CHAPTER IX

MIMA@MSA PHILOSOPHY

1 A Comparative Review...........................................367
2 The Mima@msa Literature........................................369
3 The Parata@h-prama@nya doctrine of Nyaya and the
Svata@h-prama@nya doctrine of Mima@msa..........................372
4 The place of Sense-organs in Perception........................375
5 Indeterminate and Determinate Perception.......................378
6 Some Ontological Problems connected with the Doctrine of
Perception......................................................379
7 The Nature of Knowledge........................................382
8 The Psychology of Illusion.....................................384
9 Inference......................................................387
10 Upamana, Arthapatti...........................................391
11 S'abda-prama@na...............................................394
12 The Prama@na of Non-perception (anupalabdhi)..................397
13 Self, Salvation, and God......................................399
14 Mima@msa as Philosophy and Mima@msa as Ritualism..............403

CHAPTER X

THE S'A@NKARA SCHOOL OF VEDANTA

1 Comprehension of the Philosophical Issues more essential than
the Dialectic of Controversy....................................406
2 The philosophical situation: a Review..........................408
3 Vedanta Literature.............................................418
4 Vedanta in Gau@dapada..........................................420
5 Vedanta and Sa@nkara (788-820 A.D.)............................429
6 The main idea of the Vedanta philosophy........................439
7 In what sense is the world-appearance false?...................443
8 The nature of the world-appearance, phenomena..................445
9 The Definition of Ajnana (nescience)...........................452
10 Ajnana established by Perception and Inference................454
11 Locus and Object of Ajnana, Aha@mkara and Anta@hkara@na.......457
12 Anirvacyavada and the Vedanta dialectic.......................461
13 The Theory of Causation.......................................465
14 Vedanta theory of Perception and Inference....................470
15 Atman, Jiva, Is'vara, Ekajivavada and D@r@s@tis@r@s@tivada....474
16 Vedanta theory of Illusion....................................485
17 Vedanta Ethics and Vedanta Emancipation.......................489
18 Vedanta and other Indian systems..............................492

INDEX............................................................495

1

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

The achievements of the ancient Indians in the field of philosophy are
but very imperfectly known to the world at large, and it is unfortunate
that the condition is no better even in India. There is a small body
of Hindu scholars and ascetics living a retired life in solitude, who
are well acquainted with the subject, but they do not know English and
are not used to modern ways of thinking, and the idea that they ought
to write books in vernaculars in order to popularize the subject does
not appeal to them. Through the activity of various learned bodies and
private individuals both in Europe and in India large numbers of
philosophical works in Sanskrit and Pali have been published, as well as
translations of a few of them, but there has been as yet little
systematic attempt on the part of scholars to study them and judge their
value. There are hundreds of Sanskrit works on most of the systems of
Indian thought and scarcely a hundredth part of them has been translated.
Indian modes of expression, entailing difficult technical philosophical
terms are so different from those of European thought, that they can
hardly ever be accurately translated. It is therefore very difficult
for a person unacquainted with Sanskrit to understand Indian philosophical
thought in its true bearing from translations. Pali is a much easier
language than Sanskrit, but a knowledge of Pali is helpful in
understanding only the earliest school of Buddhism, when it was in its
semi-philosophical stage. Sanskrit is generally regarded as a difficult
language. But no one from an acquaintance with Vedic or ordinary literary
Sanskrit can have any idea of the difficulty of the logical and abstruse
parts of Sanskrit philosophical literature. A man who can easily
understand the Vedas. the Upani@sads, the Puranas, the Law Books and
the literary works, and is also well acquainted with European
philosophical thought, may find it literally impossible to understand
even small portions of a work of advanced Indian logic, or the
dialectical Vedanta. This is due to two reasons, the use of
technical terms and of great condensation in expression, and
the hidden allusions to doctrines of other systems. The

2

tendency to conceiving philosophical problems in a clear and unambiguous
manner is an important feature of Sanskrit thought, but from the ninth
century onwards, the habit of using clear, definite, and precise
expressions, began to develop in a very striking manner, and as a result
of that a large number of technical terms began to be invented. These
terms are seldom properly explained, and it is presupposed that the reader
who wants to read the works should have a knowledge of them. Any one in
olden times who took to the study of any system of philosophy, had to do
so with a teacher, who explained those terms to him. The teacher himself
had got it from his teacher, and he from his. There was no tendency to
popularize philosophy, for the idea then prevalent was that only the
chosen few who had otherwise shown their fitness, deserved to become
fit students (_adhikari_) of philosophy, under the direction of a
teacher. Only those who had the grit and high moral strength to devote
their whole life to the true understanding of philosophy and the
rebuilding of life in accordance with the high truths of philosophy
were allowed to study it.

Another difficulty which a beginner will meet is this, that sometimes
the same technical terms are used in extremely different senses in
different systems. The student must know the meaning of each technical
term with reference to the system in which it occurs, and no dictionary
will enlighten him much about the matter [Footnote ref 1]. He will have
to pick them up as he advances and finds them used. Allusions to the
doctrines of other systems and their refutations during the discussions
of similar doctrines in any particular system of thought are often very
puzzling even to a well-equipped reader; for he cannot be expected to
know all the doctrines of other systems without going through them, and
so it often becomes difficult to follow the series of answers and
refutations which are poured forth in the course of these discussions.
There are two important compendiums in Sanskrit giving a summary of some
of the principal systems of Indian thought, viz. the
_Sarvadars'anasa@mgraha_, and the _@Sa@ddars'anasamuccaya_ of
Haribhadra with the commentary of Gu@naratna; but the former is very
sketchy and can throw very little light on the understanding
of the ontological or epistemological doctrines of any of the
systems. It has been translated by Cowell and Gough, but I

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Recently a very able Sanskrit dictionary of technical
philosophical terms called Nyayakos'a has been prepared by M.M.
Bhimacarya Jhalkikar, Bombay, Govt. Press.]

3

am afraid the translation may not be found very intelligible.
Gu@naratna's commentary is excellent so far as Jainism is concerned,
and it sometimes gives interesting information about other systems,
and also supplies us with some short bibliographical notices, but it
seldom goes on to explain the epistemological or ontological doctrines
or discussions which are so necessary for the right understanding of any
of the advanced systems of Indian thought. Thus in the absence of a book
which could give us in brief the main epistemological, ontological, and
psychological positions of the Indian thinkers, it is difficult even for
a good Sanskrit scholar to follow the advanced philosophical literature,
even though he may be acquainted with many of the technical philosophical
terms. I have spoken enough about the difficulties of studying Indian
philosophy, but if once a person can get himself used to the technical
terms and the general positions of the different Indian thinkers and their
modes of expression, he can master the whole by patient toil. The
technical terms, which are a source of difficulty at the beginning, are
of inestimable value in helping us to understand the precise and definite
meaning of the writers who used them, and the chances of misinterpreting
or misunderstanding them are reduced to a minimum. It is I think
well-known that avoidance of technical terms has often rendered
philosophical works unduly verbose, and liable to misinterpretation.
The art of clear writing is indeed a rare virtue and every philosopher
cannot expect to have it. But when technical expressions are properly
formed, even a bad writer can make himself understood. In the early days
of Buddhist philosophy in the Pali literature, this difficulty is greatly
felt. There are some technical terms here which are still very elastic and
their repetition in different places in more or less different senses
heighten the difficulty of understanding the real meaning intended to be
conveyed.

But is it necessary that a history of Indian philosophy should be
written? There are some people who think that the Indians never rose
beyond the stage of simple faith and that therefore they cannot have
any philosophy at all in the proper sense of the term. Thus Professor
Frank Thilly of the Cornell University says in his _History of Philosophy_
[Footnote ref 1], "A universal history of philosophy would include
the philosophies of all peoples. Not all peoples, however

__________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: New York, 1914, p. 3.]

4

have produced real systems of thought, and the speculations of only a
few can be said to have had a history. Many do not rise beyond the
mythological stage. Even the theories of Oriental peoples, the Hindus,
Egyptians, Chinese, consist, in the main, of mythological and ethical
doctrines, and are not thoroughgoing systems of thought: they are shot
through with poetry and faith. We shall, therefore, limit ourselves to
the study of the Western countries, and begin with the philosophy of the
ancient Greeks, on whose culture our own civilization in part, rests."
There are doubtless many other people who hold such uninformed and
untrue beliefs, which only show their ignorance of Indian matters.
It is not necessary to say anything in order to refute these views,
for what follows will I hope show the falsity of their beliefs. If
they are not satisfied, and want to know more definitely and elaborately
about the contents of the different systems, I am afraid they will have
to go to the originals referred to in the bibliographical notices of
the chapters.

There is another opinion, that the time has not yet come for an attempt
to write a history of Indian philosophy. Two different reasons are given
from two different points of view. It is said that the field of Indian
philosophy is so vast, and such a vast literature exists on each of the
systems, that it is not possible for anyone to collect his materials
directly from the original sources, before separate accounts are prepared
by specialists working in each of the particular systems. There is some
truth in this objection, but although in some of the important systems
the literature that exists is exceedingly vast, yet many of them are more
or less repetitions of the same subjects, and a judicious selection of
twenty or thirty important works on each of the systems could certainly
be made, which would give a fairly correct exposition. In my own
undertaking in this direction I have always drawn directly from the
original texts, and have always tried to collect my materials from those
sources in which they appear at their best. My space has been very limited
and I have chosen the features which appeared to me to be the most
important. I had to leave out many discussions of difficult problems
and diverse important bearings of each of the systems to many
interesting aspects of philosophy. This I hope may be excused
in a history of philosophy which does not aim at completeness.
There are indeed many defects and shortcomings, and

5

these would have been much less in the case of a writer abler than the
present one. At any rate it may be hoped that the imperfections of the
present attempt will be a stimulus to those whose better and more
competent efforts will supersede it. No attempt ought to be called
impossible on account of its imperfections.

In the second place it is said that the Indians had no proper and
accurate historical records and biographies and it is therefore impossible
to write a history of Indian philosophy. This objection is also partially
valid. But this defect does not affect us so much as one would at first
sight suppose; for, though the dates of the earlier beginnings are very
obscure, yet, in later times, we are in a position to affirm some dates
and to point out priority and posteriority in the case of other thinkers.
As most of the systems developed side by side through many centuries their
mutual relations also developed, and these could be well observed. The
special nature of this development has been touched on in the fourth
chapter. Most of the systems had very early beginnings and a continuous
course of development through the succeeding centuries, and it is not
possible to take the state of the philosophy of a particular system at
a particular time and contrast it with the state of that system at a
later time; for the later state did not supersede the previous state,
but only showed a more coherent form of it, which was generally true to
the original system but was more determinate. Evolution through history
has in Western countries often brought forth the development of more
coherent types of philosophic thought, but in India, though the types
remained the same, their development through history made them more and
more coherent and determinate. Most of the parts were probably existent
in the earlier stages, but they were in an undifferentiated state; through
the criticism and conflict of the different schools existing side by side
the parts of each of the systems of thought became more and more
differentiated, determinate, and coherent. In some cases this development
has been almost imperceptible, and in many cases the earlier forms have
been lost, or so inadequately expressed that nothing definite could be
made out of them. Wherever such a differentiation could be made
in the interests of philosophy, I have tried to do it. But I
have never considered it desirable that the philosophical interest
should be subordinated to the chronological. It is no

6

doubt true that more definite chronological information would be
a very desirable thing, yet I am of opinion that the little
chronological data we have give us a fair amount of help in forming
a general notion about the growth and development of the different
systems by mutual association and conflict. If the condition of the
development of philosophy in India had been the same as in Europe,
definite chronological knowledge would be considered much more
indispensable. For, when one system supersedes another, it is
indispensably necessary that we should know which preceded and which
succeeded. But when the systems are developing side by side, and when
we are getting them in their richer and better forms, the interest with
regard to the conditions, nature and environment of their early origin
has rather a historical than a philosophical interest. I have tried as
best I could to form certain general notions as regards the earlier
stages of some of the systems, but though the various features of
these systems at these stages in detail may not be ascertainable,
yet this, I think, could never be considered as invalidating the
whole programme. Moreover, even if we knew definitely the correct dates
of the thinkers of the same system we could not treat them separately,
as is done in European philosophy, without unnecessarily repeating the
same thing twenty times over; for they all dealt with the same system,
and tried to bring out the same type of thought in more and more
determinate forms.

The earliest literature of India is the Vedas. These consist mostly of
hymns in praise of nature gods, such as fire, wind, etc. Excepting in
some of the hymns of the later parts of the work (probably about 1000
B.C.), there is not much philosophy in them in our sense of the term.
It is here that we first find intensely interesting philosophical
questions of a more or less cosmological character expressed in terms
of poetry and imagination. In the later Vedic works called the
Brahmaf@nas and the Ara@nyakas written mostly in prose, which followed
the Vedic hymns, there are two tendencies, viz. one that sought to
establish the magical forms of ritualistic worship, and the other which
indulged in speculative thinking through crude generalizations. This
latter tendency was indeed much feebler than the former, and it might
appear that the ritualistic tendency had actually swallowed up what
little of philosophy the later parts of the Vedic hymns were trying
to express, but there are unmistakable marks that this tendency

7

existed and worked. Next to this come certain treatises written in prose
and verse called the Upani@sads, which contain various sorts of
philosophical thoughts mostly monistic or singularistic but also some
pluralistic and dualistic ones. These are not reasoned statements, but
utterances of truths intuitively perceived or felt as unquestionably real
and indubitable, and carrying great force, vigour, and persuasiveness with
them. It is very probable that many of the earliest parts of this
literature are as old as 500 B.C. to 700 B.C. Buddhist philosophy began
with the Buddha from some time about 500 B.C. There is reason to believe
that Buddhist philosophy continued to develop in India in one or other of
its vigorous forms till some time about the tenth or eleventh century A.D.
The earliest beginnings of the other Indian systems of thought are also to
be sought chiefly between the age of the Buddha to about 200 B.C. Jaina
philosophy was probably prior to the Buddha. But except in its earlier
days, when it came in conflict with the doctrines of the Buddha, it
does not seem to me that the Jaina thought came much in contact with
other systems of Hindu thought. Excepting in some forms of Vai@s@nava
thought in later times, Jaina thought is seldom alluded to by the Hindu
writers or later Buddhists, though some Jains like Haribhadra and
Gu@naratna tried to refute the Hindu and Buddhist systems. The
non-aggressive nature of their religion and ideal may to a certain
extent explain it, but there may be other reasons too which it is
difficult for us to guess. It is interesting to note that, though there
have been some dissensions amongst the Jains about dogmas and creeds,
Jaina philosophy has not split into many schools of thought more or less
differing from one another as Buddhist thought did.

The first volume of this work will contain Buddhist and Jaina philosophy
and the six systems of Hindu thought. These six systems of orthodox
Hindu thought are the Sa@mkhya, the Yoga, the Nyaya, the Vais'e@sika,
the Mima@msa (generally known as Purva Mima@msa), and the Vedanta (known
also as Uttara Mima@msa). Of these what is differently known as Sa@mkhya
and Yoga are but different schools of one system. The Vais'e@sika and
the Nyaya in later times became so mixed up that, though in early times
the similarity of the former with Mima@msa was greater than that
with Nyaya, they came to be regarded as fundamentally almost the
same systems. Nyaya and Vais'e@sika have therefore been treated

8

together. In addition to these systems some theistic systems began
to grow prominent from the ninth century A.D. They also probably
had their early beginnings at the time of the Upani@sads. But at
that time their interest was probably concentrated on problems
of morality and religion. It is not improbable that these were
associated with certain metaphysical theories also, but no works
treating them in a systematic way are now available. One of their most
important early works is the _Bhagavadgata_. This book is rightly
regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of Hindu thought. It is
written in verse, and deals with moral, religious, and metaphysical
problems, in a loose form. It is its lack of system and method which
gives it its peculiar charm more akin to the poetry of the Upani@sads
than to the dialectical and systematic Hindu thought. From the ninth
century onwards attempts were made to supplement these loose theistic
ideas which were floating about and forming integral parts of religious
creeds, by metaphysical theories. Theism is often dualistic and
pluralistic, and so are all these systems, which are known as different
schools of Vai@s@nava philosophy. Most of the Vai@s@nava thinkers wished
to show that their systems were taught in the Upani@sads, and thus
wrote commentaries thereon to prove their interpretations, and also wrote
commentaries on the _Brahmasutra_, the classical exposition of the
philosophy of the Upani@sads. In addition to the works of these Vai@s@nava
thinkers there sprang up another class of theistic works which were of a
more eclectic nature. These also had their beginnings in periods as old
as the Upani@sads. They are known as the S'aiva and Tantra thought, and are
dealt with in the second volume of this work.

We thus see that the earliest beginnings of most systems of Hindu thought
can be traced to some time between 600 B.C. to 100 or 200 B.C. It is
extremely difficult to say anything about the relative priority of the
systems with any degree of certainty. Some conjectural attempts have
been made in this work with regard to some of the systems, but how far
they are correct, it will be for our readers to judge. Moreover during
the earliest manifestation of a system some crude outlines only are
traceable. As time went on the systems of thought began to develop
side by side. Most of them were taught from the time in which they
were first conceived to about the seventeenth century A.D. in an
unbroken chain of teachers and pupils. Even now each system of
Hindu thought has its own adherents, though few people now

9

care to write any new works upon them. In the history of the growth of
any system of Hindu thought we find that as time went on, and as new
problems were suggested, each system tried to answer them consistently
with its own doctrines. The order in which we have taken the
philosophical systems could not be strictly a chronological one. Thus
though it is possible that the earliest speculations of some form of
Sa@mkhya, Yoga, and Mima@msa were prior to Buddhism yet they have been
treated after Buddhism and Jainism, because the elaborate works of these
systems which we now possess are later than Buddhism. In my opinion the
Vais'e@sika system is also probably pre-Buddhistic, but it has been
treated later, partly on account of its association with Nyaya, and
partly on account of the fact that all its commentaries are of a much
later date. It seems to me almost certain that enormous quantities of
old philosophical literature have been lost, which if found could have
been of use to us in showing the stages of the early growth of the systems
and their mutual relations. But as they are not available we have to be
satisfied with what remains. The original sources from which I have drawn
my materials have all been indicated in the brief accounts of the
literature of each system which I have put in before beginning the study
of any particular system of thought.

In my interpretations I have always tried to follow the original sources
as accurately as I could. This has sometimes led to old and unfamiliar
modes of expression, but this course seemed to me to be preferable to
the adoption of European modes of thought for the expression of Indian
ideas. But even in spite of this striking similarities to many of the
modern philosophical doctrines and ideas will doubtless be noticed.
This only proves that the human mind follows more or less the same modes
of rational thought. I have never tried to compare any phase of Indian
thought with European, for this is beyond the scope of my present
attempt, but if I may be allowed to express my own conviction, I might
say that many of the philosophical doctrines of European philosophy are
essentially the same as those found in Indian philosophy. The main
difference is often the difference of the point of view from which the
same problems appeared in such a variety of forms in the two countries.
My own view with regard to the net value of Indian philosophical
development will be expressed in the concluding chapter of the second
volume of the present work.

10

CHAPTER II

THE VEDAS, BRAHMANAS AND THEIR PHILOSOPHY

The Vedas and their antiquity.

The sacred books of India, the Vedas, are generally believed to be the
earliest literary record of the Indo-European race. It is indeed
difficult to say when the earliest portions of these compositions came
into existence. Many shrewd guesses have been offered, but none of them
can be proved to be incontestably true. Max Mueller supposed the date to
be 1200 B.C., Haug 2400 B.C. and Bal Ga@ngadhar Tilak 4000 B.C. The
ancient Hindus seldom kept any historical record of their literary,
religious or political achievements. The Vedas were handed down from
mouth to mouth from a period of unknown antiquity; and the Hindus
generally believed that they were never composed by men. It was
therefore generally supposed that either they were taught by God to the
sages, or that they were of themselves revealed to the sages who were the
"seers" (_mantradra@s@ta_) of the hymns. Thus we find that when some
time had elapsed after the composition of the Vedas, people had come to
look upon them not only as very old, but so old that they had,
theoretically at least, no beginning in time, though they were believed
to have been revealed at some unknown remote period at the beginning of
each creation.

The place of the Vedas in the Hindu mind.

When the Vedas were composed, there was probably no system of writing
prevalent in India. But such was the scrupulous zeal of the Brahmins,
who got the whole Vedic literature by heart by hearing it from their
preceptors, that it has been transmitted most faithfully to us through
the course of the last 3000 years or more with little or no interpolations
at all. The religious history of India had suffered considerable changes
in the latter periods, since the time of the Vedic civilization, but such
was the reverence paid to the Vedas that they had ever remained as
the highest religious authority for all sections of the Hindus at
all times. Even at this day all the obligatory duties of the Hindus
at birth, marriage, death, etc., are performed according to the old

11

Vedic ritual. The prayers that a Brahmin now says three times a day
are the same selections of Vedic verses as were used as prayer verses
two or three thousand years ago. A little insight into the life of an
ordinary Hindu of the present day will show that the system of
image-worship is one that has been grafted upon his life, the regular
obligatory duties of which are ordered according to the old Vedic rites.
Thus an orthodox Brahmin can dispense with image-worship if he likes,
but not so with his daily Vedic prayers or other obligatory ceremonies.
Even at this day there are persons who bestow immense sums of money
for the performance and teaching of Vedic sacrifices and rituals.
Most of the Sanskrit literatures that flourished after the Vedas
base upon them their own validity, and appeal to them as authority.
Systems of Hindu philosophy not only own their allegiance to the Vedas,
but the adherents of each one of them would often quarrel with others
and maintain its superiority by trying to prove that it and it alone
was the faithful follower of the Vedas and represented correctly their
views. The laws which regulate the social, legal, domestic and religious
customs and rites of the Hindus even to the present day are said to be
but mere systematized memories of old Vedic teachings, and are held to
be obligatory on their authority. Even under British administration, in
the inheritance of property, adoption, and in such other legal
transactions, Hindu Law is followed, and this claims to draw its authority
from the Vedas. To enter into details is unnecessary. But suffice it to
say that the Vedas, far from being regarded as a dead literature of the
past, are still looked upon as the origin and source of almost all
literatures except purely secular poetry and drama. Thus in short we may
say that in spite of the many changes that time has wrought, the orthodox
Hindu life may still be regarded in the main as an adumbration of the
Vedic life, which had never ceased to shed its light all through the past.

Classification of the Vedic literature.

A beginner who is introduced for the first time to the study
of later Sanskrit literature is likely to appear somewhat confused
when he meets with authoritative texts of diverse purport and
subjects having the same generic name "Veda" or "S'ruti" (from
_s'ru_ to hear); for Veda in its wider sense is not the name of any

12

particular book, but of the literature of a particular epoch extending
over a long period, say two thousand years or so. As this literature
represents the total achievements of the Indian people in different
directions for such a long period, it must of necessity be of a
diversified character. If we roughly classify this huge literature from
the points of view of age, language, and subject matter, we can point out
four different types, namely the Sa@mhita or collection of verses (_sam_
together, _hita_ put), Brahma@nas, Ara@nyakas ("forest treatises")
and the Upani@sads. All these literatures, both prose and verse,
were looked upon as so holy that in early times it was thought
almost a sacrilege to write them; they were therefore learnt by
heart by the Brahmins from the mouth of their preceptors and
were hence called _s'ruti_ (literally anything heard)[Footnote ref 1].

The Sa@mhitas.

There are four collections or Sa@mhitas, namely @Rg-Veda, Sama-Veda,
Yajur-Veda and Atharva-Veda. Of these the @Rg-Veda is probably the
earliest. The Sama-Veda has practically no independent value, for
it consists of stanzas taken (excepting only 75) entirely from the
@Rg-Veda, which were meant to be sung to certain fixed melodies, and
may thus be called the book of chants. The Yajur-Veda however contains
in addition to the verses taken from the @Rg-Veda many original prose
formulas. The arrangement of the verses of the Sama-Veda is solely with
reference to their place and use in the Soma sacrifice; the contents
of the Yajur-Veda are arranged in the order in which the verses were
actually employed in the various religious sacrifices. It is therefore
called the Veda of Yajus--sacrificial prayers. These may be contrasted
with the arrangement in the @Rg-Veda in this, that there the verses are
generally arranged in accordance with the gods who are adored in them.
Thus, for example, first we get all the poems addressed to Agni or the
Fire-god, then all those to the god Indra and so on. The fourth
collection, the Atharva-Veda, probably attained its present form
considerably later than the @Rg-Veda. In spirit, however, as Professor
Macdonell says, "It is not only entirely different from the _Rigveda_
but represents a much more primitive stage of thought. While the
_Rigveda_ deals almost exclusively with the higher gods as conceived by a

_____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Pa@nini, III. iii. 94.]

13

comparatively advanced and refined sacerdotal class, the _Atharva-Veda_
is, in the main a book of spells and incantations appealing to the demon
world, and teems with notions about witchcraft current among the lower
grades of the population, and derived from an immemorial antiquity. These
two, thus complementary to each other in contents are obviously the most
important of the four Vedas [Footnote ref 1]."

The Brahma@nas. [Footnote ref 2]

After the Sa@mhitas there grew up the theological treatises called the
Brahma@nas, which were of a distinctly different literary type. They
are written in prose, and explain the sacred significance of the
different rituals to those who are not already familiar with them.
"They reflect," says Professor Macdonell, "the spirit of an age in
which all intellectual activity is concentrated on the sacrifice,
describing its ceremonies, discussing its value, speculating on its
origin and significance." These works are full of dogmatic assertions,
fanciful symbolism and speculations of an unbounded imagination in the
field of sacrificial details. The sacrificial ceremonials were probably
never so elaborate at the time when the early hymns were composed.
But when the collections of hymns were being handed down from generation
to generation the ceremonials became more and more complicated. Thus
there came about the necessity of the distribution of the different
sacrificial functions among several distinct classes of priests. We may
assume that this was a period when the caste system was becoming
established, and when the only thing which could engage wise and religious
minds was sacrifice and its elaborate rituals. Free speculative thinking
was thus subordinated to the service of the sacrifice, and the result
was the production of the most fanciful sacramental and symbolic

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: A.A. Macdonell's _History of Sanskrit Literature_, p. 31.]

[Footnote 2: Weber (_Hist. Ind. Lit_., p. 11, note) says that the word
Brahma@na signifies "that which relates to prayer _brahman_." Max Muller
(_S.B.E._, I.p. lxvi) says that Brahma@na meant "originally the sayings
of Brahmans, whether in the general sense of priests, or in the more
special sense of Brahman-priests." Eggeling (S.B.E. XII. Introd. p. xxii)
says that the Brhama@nas were so called "probably either because
they were intended for the instruction and guidance of priests (brahman)
generally; or because they were, for the most part, the authoritative
utterances of such as were thoroughly versed in Vedic and sacrificial
lore and competent to act as Brahmans or superintending priests." But
in view of the fact that the Brahma@nas were also supposed to be as
much revealed as the Vedas, the present writer thinks that Weber's view
is the correct one.]

14

system, unparalleled anywhere but among the Gnostics. It is now
generally believed that the close of the Brahma@na period was not later
than 500 B.C.

The Ara@nyakas.

As a further development of the Brahma@nas however we get the Ara@nyakas
or forest treatises. These works were probably composed for old men who
had retired into the forest and were thus unable to perform elaborate
sacrifices requiring a multitude of accessories and articles which could
not be procured in forests. In these, meditations on certain symbols
were supposed to be of great merit, and they gradually began to supplant
the sacrifices as being of a superior order. It is here that we find
that amongst a certain section of intelligent people the ritualistic ideas
began to give way, and philosophic speculations about the nature of
truth became gradually substituted in their place. To take an
illustration from the beginning of the B@rhadara@nyaka we find that
instead of the actual performance of the horse sacrifice (_as'vamedha_)
there are directions for meditating upon the dawn (_U@sas_) as the head
of the horse, the sun as the eye of the horse, the air as its life, and
so on. This is indeed a distinct advancement of the claims of speculation
or meditation over the actual performance of the complicated ceremonials
of sacrifice. The growth of the subjective speculation, as being capable
of bringing the highest good, gradually resulted in the supersession of
Vedic ritualism and the establishment of the claims of philosophic
meditation and self-knowledge as the highest goal of life. Thus
we find that the Ara@nyaka age was a period during which free thinking
tried gradually to shake off the shackles of ritualism which had fettered
it for a long time. It was thus that the Ara@nyakas could pave the way
for the Upani@sads, revive the germs of philosophic speculation in the
Vedas, and develop them in a manner which made the Upani@sads the source
of all philosophy that arose in the world of Hindu thought.

The @Rg-Veda, its civilization.

The hymns of the @Rg-Veda are neither the productions of a
single hand nor do they probably belong to any single age. They
were composed probably at different periods by different sages,
and it is not improbable that some of them were composed

15

before the Aryan people entered the plains of India. They were handed
down from mouth to mouth and gradually swelled through the new additions
that were made by the poets of succeeding generations. It was when the
collection had increased to a very considerable extent that it was
probably arranged in the present form, or in some other previous forms
to which the present arrangement owes its origin. They therefore reflect
the civilization of the Aryan people at different periods of antiquity
before and after they had come to India. This unique monument of a long
vanished age is of great aesthetic value, and contains much that is
genuine poetry. It enables us to get an estimate of the primitive
society which produced it--the oldest book of the Aryan race.
The principal means of sustenance were cattle-keeping and the
cultivation of the soil with plough and harrow, mattock and hoe,
and watering the ground when necessary with artificial canals.
"The chief food consists," as Kaegi says, "together with bread,
of various preparations of milk, cakes of flour and butter, many
sorts of vegetables and fruits; meat cooked on the spits or in pots,
is little used, and was probably eaten only at the great feasts and
family gatherings. Drinking plays throughout a much more important
part than eating [Footnote ref 1]." The wood-worker built war-chariots
and wagons, as also more delicate carved works and artistic cups.
Metal-workers, smiths and potters continued their trade. The
women understood the plaiting of mats, weaving and sewing;
they manufactured the wool of the sheep into clothing for men
and covering for animals. The group of individuals forming a
tribe was the highest political unit; each of the different families
forming a tribe was under the sway of the father or the head of
the family. Kingship was probably hereditary and in some cases
electoral. Kingship was nowhere absolute, but limited by the
will of the people. Most developed ideas of justice, right and
law, were present in the country. Thus Kaegi says, "the hymns
strongly prove how deeply the prominent minds in the people
were persuaded that the eternal ordinances of the rulers of the
world were as inviolable in mental and moral matters as in the
realm of nature, and that every wrong act, even the unconscious,
was punished and the sin expiated."[Footnote ref 2] Thus it is only right
and proper to think that the Aryans had attained a pretty high degree

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, 1886 edition, p. 13.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid_. p. 18.]

16

of civilization, but nowhere was the sincere spirit of the Aryans
more manifested than in religion, which was the most essential and
dominant feature of almost all the hymns, except a few secular
ones. Thus Kaegi says, "The whole significance of the Rigveda
in reference to the general history of religion, as has repeatedly
been pointed out in modern times, rests upon this, that it presents
to us the development of religious conceptions from the earliest
beginnings to the deepest apprehension of the godhead and its
relation to man [Footnote ref 1]."

The Vedic Gods.

The hymns of the @Rg-Veda were almost all composed in
praise of the gods. The social and other materials are of secondary
importance, as these references had only to be mentioned incidentally
in giving vent to their feelings of devotion to the god.
The gods here are however personalities presiding over the diverse
powers of nature or forming their very essence. They have
therefore no definite, systematic and separate characters like the
Greek gods or the gods of the later Indian mythical works, the
Pura@nas. The powers of nature such as the storm, the rain, the
thunder, are closely associated with one another, and the gods
associated with them are also similar in character. The same
epithets are attributed to different gods and it is only in a few
specific qualities that they differ from one another. In the later
mythological compositions of the Pura@nas the gods lost their
character as hypostatic powers of nature, and thus became actual
personalities and characters having their tales of joy and sorrow
like the mortal here below. The Vedic gods may be contrasted
with them in this, that they are of an impersonal nature, as the
characters they display are mostly but expressions of the powers
of nature. To take an example, the fire or Agni is described, as
Kaegi has it, as one that "lies concealed in the softer wood, as
in a chamber, until, called forth by the rubbing in the early
morning hour, he suddenly springs forth in gleaming brightness.
The sacrificer takes and lays him on the wood. When the priests
pour melted butter upon him, he leaps up crackling and neighing
like a horse--he whom men love to see increasing like their own
prosperity. They wonder at him, when, decking himself with

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 26.]

17

changing colors like a suitor, equally beautiful on all sides, he
presents to all sides his front.

"All-searching is his beam, the gleaming of his light,
His, the all-beautiful, of beauteous face and glance,
The changing shimmer like that floats upon the stream,
So Agni's rays gleam over bright and never cease."

[Footnote ref 1] R.V.I. 143. 3.

They would describe the wind (Vata) and adore him and say

"In what place was he born, and from whence comes he?
The vital breath of gods, the world's great offspring,
The God where'er he will moves at his pleasure:
His rushing sound we hear--what his appearance, no one."

[Footnote ref 2] R.V.X. 168. 3, 4.

It was the forces of nature and her manifestations, on earth
here, the atmosphere around and above us, or in the Heaven
beyond the vault of the sky that excited the devotion and
imagination of the Vedic poets. Thus with the exception of a
few abstract gods of whom we shall presently speak and some
dual divinities, the gods may be roughly classified as the
terrestrial, atmospheric, and celestial.

Polytheism, Henotheism and Monotheism.

The plurality of the Vedic gods may lead a superficial enquirer
to think the faith of the Vedic people polytheistic. But an intelligent
reader will find here neither polytheism nor monotheism but a simple
primitive stage of belief to which both of these may be said to owe
their origin. The gods here do not preserve their proper places as in
a polytheistic faith, but each one of them shrinks into insignificance
or shines as supreme according as it is the object of adoration or not.
The Vedic poets were the children of nature. Every natural phenomenon
excited their wonder, admiration or veneration. The poet is struck
with wonder that "the rough red cow gives soft white milk." The appearance
or the setting of the sun sends a thrill into the minds of the Vedic
sage and with wonder-gazing eyes he exclaims:

"Undropped beneath, not fastened firm, how comes it
That downward turned he falls not downward?
The guide of his ascending path,--who saw it?"

[Footnote Ref 1] R.V. IV. 13. 5.

The sages wonder how "the sparkling waters of all rivers flow
into one ocean without ever filling it." The minds of the Vedic

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 35.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid_, p. 38.]

18

people as we find in the hymns were highly impressionable and
fresh. At this stage the time was not ripe enough for them to
accord a consistent and well-defined existence to the multitude
of gods nor to universalize them in a monotheistic creed. They
hypostatized unconsciously any force of nature that overawed
them or filled them with gratefulness and joy by its beneficent or
aesthetic character, and adored it. The deity which moved the devotion
or admiration of their mind was the most supreme for the
time. This peculiar trait of the Vedic hymns Max Muller has called
Henotheism or Kathenotheism: "a belief in single gods, each in turn
standing out as the highest. And since the gods are thought of
as specially ruling in their own spheres, the singers, in their special
concerns and desires, call most of all on that god to whom they
ascribe the most power in the matter,--to whose department if I
may say so, their wish belongs. This god alone is present to the mind
of the suppliant; with him for the time being is associated everything
that can be said of a divine being;--he is the highest, the only
god, before whom all others disappear, there being in this, however,
no offence or depreciation of any other god [Footnote ref 1]." "Against
this theory it has been urged," as Macdonell rightly says in his _Vedic
Mythology_ [Footnote ref 2], "that Vedic deities are not represented as
'independent of all the rest,' since no religion brings its gods into
more frequent and varied juxtaposition and combination, and that even
the mightiest gods of the Veda are made dependent on others. Thus
Varu@na and Surya are subordinate to Indra (I. 101), Varu@na and
the As'vins submit to the power of Vi@s@nu (I. 156)....Even when a
god is spoken of as unique or chief (_eka_), as is natural enough in
laudations, such statements lose their temporarily monotheistic
force, through the modifications or corrections supplied by the context
or even by the same verse [Footnote Ref 3]. "Henotheism is therefore an
appearance," says Macdonell, "rather than a reality, an appearance
produced by the indefiniteness due to undeveloped anthropomorphism,
by the lack of any Vedic god occupying the position of a Zeus as the
constant head of the pantheon, by the natural tendency of the priest
or singer in extolling a particular god to exaggerate his greatness
and to ignore other gods, and by the

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 27.]

[Footnote 2: See _Ibid._ p. 33. See also Arrowsmith's note on it for other
references to Henotheism.]

[Footnote 3: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, pp. 16, 17.]

19

growing belief in the unity of the gods (cf. the refrain of 3, 35)
each of whom might be regarded as a type of the divine [Footnote ref 1]."
But whether we call it Henotheism or the mere temporary exaggeration
of the powers of the deity in question, it is evident that this
stage can neither be properly called polytheistic nor monotheistic,
but one which had a tendency towards them both, although it
was not sufficiently developed to be identified with either of them.
The tendency towards extreme exaggeration could be called a
monotheistic bias in germ, whereas the correlation of different
deities as independent of one another and yet existing side by side
was a tendency towards polytheism.

Growth of a Monotheistic tendency; Prajapati, Vis'vakarma.

This tendency towards extolling a god as the greatest and
highest gradually brought forth the conception of a supreme
Lord of all beings (Prajapati), not by a process of conscious
generalization but as a necessary stage of development of the mind,
able to imagine a deity as the repository of the highest moral and
physical power, though its direct manifestation cannot be perceived.
Thus the epithet Prajapati or the Lord of beings, which
was originally an epithet for other deities, came to be recognized
as a separate deity, the highest and the greatest. Thus it is said
in R.V.x. 121 [Footnote Ref 2]:

In the beginning rose Hira@nyagarbha,
Born as the only lord of all existence.
This earth he settled firm and heaven established:
What god shall we adore with our oblations?
Who gives us breath, who gives us strength, whose bidding
All creatures must obey, the bright gods even;
Whose shade is death, whose shadow life immortal:
What god shall we adore with our oblations?
Who by his might alone became the monarch
Of all that breathes, of all that wakes or slumbers,
Of all, both man and beast, the lord eternal:
What god shall we adore with our oblations?
Whose might and majesty these snowy mountains,
The ocean and the distant stream exhibit;
Whose arms extended are these spreading regions:
What god shall we adore with our oblations?
Who made the heavens bright, the earth enduring,
Who fixed the firmament, the heaven of heavens;
Who measured out the air's extended spaces:
What god shall we adore with our oblations?

_________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, p. 17.]

[Footnote 2: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, pp. 88, 89.]

20

Similar attributes are also ascribed to the deity Vis'vakarma
(All-creator) [Footnote ref 1]. He is said to be father and procreator of
all beings, though himself uncreated. He generated the primitive waters.
It is to him that the sage says,

Who is our father, our creator, maker,
Who every place doth know and every creature,
By whom alone to gods their names were given,
To him all other creatures go to ask him [Footnote ref 2]
R.V.x.82.3.

Brahma.

The conception of Brahman which has been the highest glory
for the Vedanta philosophy of later days had hardly emerged in
the @Rg-Veda from the associations of the sacrificial mind. The
meanings that Saya@na the celebrated commentator of the Vedas
gives of the word as collected by Haug are: (_a_) food, food offering,
(_b_) the chant of the sama-singer, (_c_) magical formula or text,
(_d_) duly completed ceremonies, (_e_) the chant and sacrificial gift
together, (_f_) the recitation of the hot@r priest, (_g_) great. Roth
says that it also means "the devotion which manifests itself as
longing and satisfaction of the soul and reaches forth to the
gods." But it is only in the S'atapatha Brahma@na that the conception
of Brahman has acquired a great significance as the
supreme principle which is the moving force behind the gods.
Thus the S'atapatha says, "Verily in the beginning this (universe)
was the Brahman (neut.). It created the gods; and, having
created the gods, it made them ascend these worlds: Agni this
(terrestrial) world, Vayu the air, and Surya the sky.... Then the
Brahman itself went up to the sphere beyond. Having gone up
to the sphere beyond, it considered, 'How can I descend again
into these worlds?' It then descended again by means of these
two, Form and Name. Whatever has a name, that is name; and
that again which has no name and which one knows by its form,
'this is (of a certain) form,' that is form: as far as there are Form
and Name so far, indeed, extends this (universe). These indeed
are the two great forces of Brahman; and, verily, he who knows
these two great forces of Brahman becomes himself a great force [Footnote
ref 3]. In another place Brahman is said to be the ultimate thing in the
Universe and is identified with Prajapati, Puru@sa and Pra@na

__________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 89, and also Muir's _Sanskrit
Texts_, vol. IV. pp. 5-11.]

[Footnote 2: Kaegi's translation.]

[Footnote 3: See Eggeling's translation of S'atapatha Brahmana _S.B.E._
vol. XLIV. pp. 27, 28.]

21

(the vital air [Footnote ref 1]). In another place Brahman is described as
being the Svayambhu (self-born) performing austerities, who offered
his own self in the creatures and the creatures in his own self,
and thus compassed supremacy, sovereignty and lordship over
all creatures [Footnote ref 2]. The conception of the supreme man (Puru@sa)
in the @Rg-Veda also supposes that the supreme man pervades the
world with only a fourth part of Himself, whereas the remaining
three parts transcend to a region beyond. He is at once the
present, past and future [Footnote ref 3].

Sacrifice; the First Rudiments of the Law of Karma.

It will however be wrong to suppose that these monotheistic
tendencies were gradually supplanting the polytheistic sacrifices.
On the other hand, the complications of ritualism were gradually
growing in their elaborate details. The direct result of this growth
contributed however to relegate the gods to a relatively unimportant
position, and to raise the dignity of the magical characteristics
of the sacrifice as an institution which could give the
desired fruits of themselves. The offerings at a sacrifice were not
dictated by a devotion with which we are familiar under Christian
or Vai@s@nava influence. The sacrifice taken as a whole is conceived
as Haug notes "to be a kind of machinery in which every
piece must tally with the other," the slightest discrepancy in the
performance of even a minute ritualistic detail, say in the pouring
of the melted butter on the fire, or the proper placing of utensils
employed in the sacrifice, or even the misplacing of a mere straw
contrary to the injunctions was sufficient to spoil the whole
sacrifice with whatsoever earnestness it might be performed.
Even if a word was mispronounced the most dreadful results
might follow. Thus when Tva@s@t@r performed a sacrifice for the
production of a demon who would be able to kill his enemy
Indra, owing to the mistaken accent of a single word the object
was reversed and the demon produced was killed by Indra. But if
the sacrifice could be duly performed down to the minutest
detail, there was no power which could arrest or delay the fruition
of the object. Thus the objects of a sacrifice were fulfilled not
by the grace of the gods, but as a natural result of the sacrifice.
The performance of the rituals invariably produced certain
mystic or magical results by virtue of which the object desired

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _S.B.E._ XLIII. pp.59,60,400 and XLIV. p.409.]

[Footnote 2: See _Ibid_., XLIV, p. 418.]

[Footnote 3: R.V.x.90, Puru@sa Sukta.]

22

by the sacrificer was fulfilled in due course like the fulfilment of
a natural law in the physical world. The sacrifice was believed
to have existed from eternity like the Vedas. The creation of
the world itself was even regarded as the fruit of a sacrifice performed
by the supreme Being. It exists as Haug says "as an invisible thing at
all times and is like the latent power of electricity in an
electrifying machine, requiring only the operation of a suitable
apparatus in order to be elicited." The sacrifice is not offered
to a god with a view to propitiate him or to obtain from him welfare
on earth or bliss in Heaven; these rewards are directly produced by
the sacrifice itself through the correct performance of complicated
and interconnected ceremonies which constitute the sacrifice. Though
in each sacrifice certain gods were invoked and received the offerings,
the gods themselves were but instruments in bringing about the sacrifice
or in completing the course of mystical ceremonies composing it.
Sacrifice is thus regarded as possessing a mystical potency superior even
to the gods, who it is sometimes stated attained to their divine rank
by means of sacrifice. Sacrifice was regarded as almost the only
kind of duty, and it was also called _karma_ or _kriya_ (action) and
the unalterable law was, that these mystical ceremonies for good
or for bad, moral or immoral (for there were many kinds of
sacrifices which were performed for injuring one's enemies or
gaining worldly prosperity or supremacy at the cost of others)
were destined to produce their effects. It is well to note here that
the first recognition of a cosmic order or law prevailing in nature
under the guardianship of the highest gods is to be found in the
use of the word @Rta (literally the course of things). This word
was also used, as Macdonell observes, to denote the "'order'
in the moral world as truth and 'right' and in the religious
world as sacrifice or 'rite'[Footnote ref 1]" and its unalterable law of
producing effects. It is interesting to note in this connection that it
is here that we find the first germs of the law of karma, which exercises
such a dominating control over Indian thought up to the present
day. Thus we find the simple faith and devotion of the Vedic
hymns on one hand being supplanted by the growth of a complex
system of sacrificial rites, and on the other bending their course
towards a monotheistic or philosophic knowledge of the ultimate
reality of the universe.

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, p. 11.]

23

Cosmogony--Mythological and philosophical.

The cosmogony of the @Rg-Veda may be looked at from two
aspects, the mythological and the philosophical. The mythological
aspect has in general two currents, as Professor Macdonell says,
"The one regards the universe as the result of mechanical production,
the work of carpenter's and joiner's skill; the other
represents it as the result of natural generation [Footnote ref. 1]."
Thus in the @Rg-Veda we find that the poet in one place says, "what was
the wood and what was the tree out of which they built heaven
and earth [Footnote ref. 2]?" The answer given to this question in
Taittiriya-Brahma@na is "Brahman the wood and Brahman the tree from
which the heaven and earth were made [Footnote ref 3]." Heaven and Earth
are sometimes described as having been supported with posts [Footnote
ref 4]. They are also sometimes spoken of as universal parents, and
parentage is sometimes attributed to Aditi and Dak@sa.

Under this philosophical aspect the semi-pantheistic Man-hymn
[Footnote ref 5] attracts our notice. The supreme man as we have already
noticed above is there said to be the whole universe, whatever
has been and shall be; he is the lord of immortality who has become
diffused everywhere among things animate and inanimate, and
all beings came out of him; from his navel came the atmosphere;
from his head arose the sky; from his feet came the earth; from
his ear the four quarters. Again there are other hymns in which
the Sun is called the soul (_atman_) of all that is movable and
all that is immovable [Footnote ref 6]. There are also statements to the
effect that the Being is one, though it is called by many names by the
sages [Footnote ref 7]. The supreme being is sometimes extolled as the
supreme Lord of the world called the golden egg (Hira@nyagarbha [Footnote
ref 8]). In some passages it is said "Brahma@naspati blew forth these
births like a blacksmith. In the earliest age of the gods, the existent
sprang from the non-existent. In the first age of the gods, the
existent sprang from the non-existent: thereafter the regions
sprang, thereafter, from Uttanapada [Footnote ref 9]." The most remarkable
and sublime hymn in which the first germs of philosophic speculation

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, p. 11.]

[Footnote 2: R.V.x. 81. 4.]

[Footnote 3: Taitt. Br. II. 8. 9. 6.]

[Footnote 4: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, p. 11; also R.V. II. 15 and IV.
56.]

[Footnote 5: R.V.x. 90.]

[Footnote 6: R.V.I. 115.]

[Footnote 7: R.V.I. 164. 46.]

[Footnote 8: R.V.X. 121.]

[Footnote 9: Muir's translation of R.V.x. 72; Muir's _Sanskrit Texts_, vol.
v.p. 48.]

24

with regard to the wonderful mystery of the origin of the world
are found is the 129th hymn of R.V.x.

1. Then there was neither being nor not-being.
The atmosphere was not, nor sky above it.
What covered all? and where? by what protected?
Was there the fathomless abyss of waters?

2. Then neither death nor deathless existed;
Of day and night there was yet no distinction.
Alone that one breathed calmly, self-supported,
Other than It was none, nor aught above It.

3. Darkness there was at first in darkness hidden;
The universe was undistinguished water.
That which in void and emptiness lay hidden
Alone by power of fervor was developed.

4. Then for the first time there arose desire,
Which was the primal germ of mind, within it.
And sages, searching in their heart, discovered
In Nothing the connecting bond of Being.

6. Who is it knows? Who here can tell us surely
From what and how this universe has risen?
And whether not till after it the gods lived?
Who then can know from what it has arisen?

7. The source from which this universe has risen,
And whether it was made, or uncreated,
He only knows, who from the highest heaven
Rules, the all-seeing lord--or does not He know [Footnote ref 1]?

The earliest commentary on this is probably a passage in the
S'atapatha Brahma@na (x. 5. 3.I) which says that "in the beginning
this (universe) was as it were neither non-existent nor existent;
in the beginning this (universe) was as it were, existed and did
not exist: there was then only that Mind. Wherefore it has been
declared by the Rishi (@Rg-Veda X. 129. I), 'There was then neither
the non-existent nor the existent' for Mind was, as it were, neither
existent nor non-existent. This Mind when created, wished to
become manifest,--more defined, more substantial: it sought after
a self (a body); it practised austerity: it acquired consistency [Footnote
ref 2]." In the Atharva-Veda also we find it stated that all forms of
the universe were comprehended within the god Skambha [Footnote ref 3].

Thus we find that even in the period of the Vedas there sprang
forth such a philosophic yearning, at least among some who could

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: _The Rigveda_, by Kaegi, p. 90. R.V.x. 129.]

[Footnote 2: See Eggeling's translation of _S'.B., S.B.E._ vol. XLIII. pp.
374, 375.]

[Footnote 3: _A.V._ x. 7. 10.]

25

question whether this universe was at all a creation or not, which
could think of the origin of the world as being enveloped in the
mystery of a primal non-differentiation of being and non-being;
and which could think that it was the primal One which by its
inherent fervour gave rise to the desire of a creation as the first
manifestation of the germ of mind, from which the universe sprang
forth through a series of mysterious gradual processes. In the
Brahma@nas, however, we find that the cosmogonic view generally
requires the agency of a creator, who is not however always the
starting point, and we find that the theory of evolution is combined
with the theory of creation, so that Prajapati is sometimes
spoken of as the creator while at other times the creator is said
to have floated in the primeval water as a cosmic golden egg.

Eschatology; the Doctrine of Atman.

There seems to be a belief in the Vedas that the soul could
be separated from the body in states of swoon, and that it could
exist after death, though we do not find there any trace of the
doctrine of transmigration in a developed form. In the S'atapatha
Brahma@na it is said that those who do not perform rites with
correct knowledge are born again after death and suffer death
again. In a hymn of the @Rg-Veda (X. 58) the soul (_manas_) of a man
apparently unconscious is invited to come back to him from the
trees, herbs, the sky, the sun, etc. In many of the hymns there
is also the belief in the existence of another world, where the
highest material joys are attained as a result of the performance
of the sacrifices and also in a hell of darkness underneath
where the evil-doers are punished. In the S'atapatha
Brahma@na we find that the dead pass between two fires which burn the
evil-doers, but let the good go by [Footnote ref 1]; it is also said
there that everyone is born again after death, is weighed in a balance,
and receives reward or punishment according as his works are good or bad.
It is easy to see that scattered ideas like these with regard to
the destiny of the soul of man according to the sacrifice that he
performs or other good or bad deeds form the first rudiments of
the later doctrine of metempsychosis. The idea that man enjoys
or suffers, either in another world or by being born in this world
according to his good or bad deeds, is the first beginning of the
moral idea, though in the Brahmanic days the good deeds were

_____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: See _S.B._ I. 9.3, and also Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_,
pp. 166, 167.]

26

more often of the nature of sacrificial duties than ordinary good
works. These ideas of the possibilities of a necessary connection
of the enjoyments and sorrows of a man with his good and bad
works when combined with the notion of an inviolable law or
order, which we have already seen was gradually growing with
the conception of @rta, and the unalterable law which produces
the effects of sacrificial works, led to the Law of Karma and the
doctrine of transmigration. The words which denote soul in the
@Rg-Veda are _manas_, _atman_ and _asu_. The word _atman_ however
which became famous in later Indian thought is generally used
to mean vital breath. Manas is regarded as the seat of thought
and emotion, and it seems to be regarded, as Macdonell says, as
dwelling in the heart[Footnote ref 1]. It is however difficult to
understand how atman as vital breath, or as a separable part of man
going out of the dead man came to be regarded as the ultimate essence
or reality in man and the universe. There is however at least one
passage in the @Rg-Veda where the poet penetrating deeper and
deeper passes from the vital breath (_asu_) to the blood, and thence
to atman as the inmost self of the world; "Who has seen how
the first-born, being the Bone-possessing (the shaped world), was
born from the Boneless (the shapeless)? where was the vital
breath, the blood, the Self (_atman_) of the world? Who went to
ask him that knows it [Footnote ref 2]?" In Taittirya Ara@nyaka I. 23,
however, it is said that Prajapati after having created his self (as
the world) with his own self entered into it. In Taittirya Brahma@na
the atman is called omnipresent, and it is said that he who knows
him is no more stained by evil deeds. Thus we find that in the
pre-Upani@sad Vedic literature atman probably was first used to
denote "vital breath" in man, then the self of the world, and then
the self in man. It is from this last stage that we find the traces
of a growing tendency to looking at the self of man as the omnipresent
supreme principle of the universe, the knowledge of which
makes a man sinless and pure.

Conclusion.

Looking at the advancement of thought in the @Rg-Veda we
find first that a fabric of thought was gradually growing which
not only looked upon the universe as a correlation of parts or a

____________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: Macdonell's _Vedic Mythology_, p.166 and R.V. viii.89.]

[Footnote 2: R.V.i. 164. 4 and Deussen's article on Atman in
_Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics_.

27

construction made of them, but sought to explain it as having
emanated from one great being who is sometimes described as
one with the universe and surpassing it, and at other times as
being separate from it; the agnostic spirit which is the mother
of philosophic thought is seen at times to be so bold as to express
doubts even on the most fundamental questions of creation--"Who
knows whether this world was ever created or not?" Secondly
the growth of sacrifices has helped to establish the unalterable
nature of the law by which the (sacrificial) actions produced their
effects of themselves. It also lessened the importance of deities
as being the supreme masters of the world and our fate, and the
tendency of henotheism gradually diminished their multiple
character and advanced the monotheistic tendency in some
quarters. Thirdly, the soul of man is described as being separable
from his body and subject to suffering and enjoyment in another
world according to his good or bad deeds; the doctrine that the
soul of man could go to plants, etc., or that it could again be reborn
on earth, is also hinted at in certain passages, and this may
be regarded as sowing the first seeds of the later doctrine of
transmigration. The self (_atman_) is spoken of in one place as the
essence of the world, and when we trace the idea in the Brahma@nas
and the Ara@nyakas we see that atman has begun to mean the
supreme essence in man as well as in the universe, and has thus
approached the great Atman doctrine of the Upani@sads.

CHAPTER III

THE EARLIER UPANI@SADS [Footnote ref 1]. (700 B.C.-600 B.C.)

The place of the Upani@sads in Vedic literature.

Though it is generally held that the Upani@sads are usually
attached as appendices to the Ara@nyakas which are again attached
to the Brahma@nas, yet it cannot be said that their distinction as
separate treatises is always observed. Thus we find in some cases
that subjects which we should expect to be discussed in a Brahma@na
are introduced into the Ara@nyakas and the Ara@nyaka materials
are sometimes fused into the great bulk of Upani@sad teaching.
This shows that these three literatures gradually grew up in one

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: There are about 112 Upani@sads which have been published by
the "Nir@naya-Sagara" Press, Bombay, 1917. These are 1 Isa, 2 Kena,
3 Katha, 4 Pras'na, 5 Mun@daka, 6 Ma@n@dukya, 7 Taittiriya, 7 Aitareya,
9 Chandogya, 10 B@rhadara@nyaka, 11 S'vetas'vatara, 12 Kau@sitaki,
13 Maitreyi, 14 Kaivalya, 15 Jabala, 16 Brahmabindu, 17 Ha@msa,
18 Aru@nika, 19 Garbha, 20 Naraya@na, 21 Naraya@na, 22 Paramaha@msa,
23 Brahma, 24 Am@rtanada, 25 Atharvas'iras, 26 Atharvas'ikha,
27 Maitraya@ni, 28 B@rhajjabala, 29 N@rsi@mhapurvatapini,
30 N@rsi@mhottaratapini, 31 Kalagnirudra, 32 Subala, 33 K@surika,
34 Yantrika, 35 Sarvasara, 36 Niralamba, 37 S'ukarahasya, 38 Vajrasucika,
39 Tejobindu, 40 Nadabindu, 41 Dhyanabindu, 42 Brahmavidya, 43 Yogatattva,
44 Atmabodha, 45 Naradaparivrajaka, 46 Tris'ikhibrahma@na, 47 Sita,
48 Yogacu@dama@ni, 49 Nirvana, 50 Ma@ndalabrahma@na, 51 Dak@si@namurtti,
52 S'arabha, 53 Skanda, 54 Tripadvibhutimahanarya@na, 55 Advayataraka,
56 Ramarahasya, 57 Ramapurvatapini, 58 Ramottaratapini, 59 Vasudeva,
60 Mudgala, 61 Sa@n@dilya, 62 Pai@ngala, 63 Bhik@suka, Maha, 65 S'ariraka,
66 Yogas'ikha, 67 Turiyatita, 68 Sa@mnyasa, 69 Paramaha@msaparivrajaka,
70 Ak@samala, 71 Avyakta, 72 Ekak@sara, 73 Annapurna, 74 Surya, 75 Aksi,
76 Adhyatma, 77 Ku@n@dika, 78 Savitri, 79 Atman, 80 Pa'supatabrahma,
81 Parabrahma, 82 Avadhuta, 83 Tripurarapini, 84 Devi, 85 Tripura,
86 Ka@tharudra, 87 Bhavana, 88 Rudrah@rdaya, 89 Yogaku@n@dali,
90 Bhasmajabala, 91 Rudrak@sajabala, 92 Ga@napati, 93 Jabaladars'ana,
94 Taiasara, 95 Mahavakya, 96 Paficabrahma, 97 Pra@nagnihotra,
98 Gopalapurvatapini, 99 Gopalottaratapini, 100 K@r@s@na, 101 Yajnavalkya,
102 Varaha, 103 S'athyayaniya, 104 Hayagriva, 105 Dattatreya, 106 Garu@da,
107 Kalisantara@na, 108 Jabali, 109 Saubhagyalak@smi, 110 Sarasvatirahasya,
111 Bahvrca, 112 Muktika.

The collection of Upani@sads translated by Dara shiko, Aurangzeb's brother,
contained 50 Upani@sads. The Muktika Upani@sad gives a list of 108
Upani@sads. With the exception of the first 13 Upani@sads most of them are
of more or less later date. The Upani@sads dealt with in this chapter are
the earlier ones. Amongst the later ones there are some which repeat the
purport of these, there are others which deal with the S'aiva, S'akta,
the Yoga and the Vai@s@nava doctrines. These will be referred to in
connection with the consideration of those systems in Volume II. The
later Upani@sads which only repeat the purport of those dealt with in this
chapter do not require further mention. Some of the later Upani@sads were
composed even as late as the fourteenth or the fifteenth century.]

29

process of development and they were probably regarded as parts
of one literature, in spite of the differences in their subject-matter.
Deussen supposes that the principle of this division was to be
found in this, that the Brahma@nas were intended for the householders,
the Ara@nyakas for those who in their old age withdrew
into the solitude of the forests and the Upani@sads for those who
renounced the world to attain ultimate salvation by meditation.
Whatever might be said about these literary classifications the
ancient philosophers of India looked upon the Upani@sads as being
of an entirely different type from the rest of the Vedic literature
as dictating the path of knowledge (_jnana-marga_) as opposed
to the path of works (_karma-marga_) which forms the content
of the latter. It is not out of place here to mention that the
orthodox Hindu view holds that whatever may be written in the
Veda is to be interpreted as commandments to perform certain
actions (_vidhi_) or prohibitions against committing certain others
(_ni@sedha_). Even the stories or episodes are to be so interpreted
that the real objects of their insertion might appear as only to
praise the performance of the commandments and to blame the
commission of the prohibitions. No person has any right to argue
why any particular Vedic commandment is to be followed, for no
reason can ever discover that, and it is only because reason fails
to find out why a certain Vedic act leads to a certain effect that
the Vedas have been revealed as commandments and prohibitions
to show the true path of happiness. The Vedic teaching belongs
therefore to that of the Karma-marga or the performance of Vedic
duties of sacrifice, etc. The Upani@sads however do not require
the performance of any action, but only reveal the ultimate truth
and reality, a knowledge of which at once emancipates a man.
Readers of Hindu philosophy are aware that there is a very strong
controversy on this point between the adherents of the Vedanta
(_Upani@sads_) and those of the Veda. For the latter seek in analogy
to the other parts of the Vedic literature to establish the principle
that the Upani@sads should not be regarded as an exception, but
that they should also be so interpreted that they might also be
held out as commending the performance of duties; but the
former dissociate the Upani@sads from the rest of the Vedic literature
and assert that they do not make the slightest reference to
any Vedic duties, but only delineate the ultimate reality which
reveals the highest knowledge in the minds of the deserving.

30

S'a@nkara the most eminent exponent of the Upani@sads holds that
they are meant for such superior men who are already above
worldly or heavenly prosperities, and for whom the Vedic duties
have ceased to have any attraction. Wheresoever there may be
such a deserving person, be he a student, a householder or an
ascetic, for him the Upani@sads have been revealed for his ultimate
emancipation and the true knowledge. Those who perform the
Vedic duties belong to a stage inferior to those who no longer
care for the fruits of the Vedic duties but are eager for final
emancipation, and it is the latter who alone are fit to hear the
Upani@sads [Footnote ref 1].

The names of the Upani@sads; Non-Brahmanic influence.

The Upani@sads are also known by another name Vedanta, as
they are believed to be the last portions of the Vedas (_veda-anta_,
end); it is by this name that the philosophy of the Upani@sads,
the Vedanta philosophy, is so familiar to us. A modern student
knows that in language the Upani@sads approach the classical
Sanskrit; the ideas preached also show that they are the culmination
of the intellectual achievement of a great epoch. As they
thus formed the concluding parts of the Vedas they retained their
Vedic names which they took from the name of the different
schools or branches (_s'akha_) among which the Vedas were studied
[Footnote ref 2]. Thus the Upani@sads attached to the Brahma@nas
of the Aitareya and Kau@sitaki schools are called respectively
Aitareya and Kau@sitaki Upani@sads. Those of the Ta@n@dins and
Talavakaras of the Sama-veda are called the Chandogya and Talavakara
(or Kena) Upani@sads. Those of the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda

___________________________________________________________________

[Footnote 1: This is what is called the difference of fitness
(_adhikaribheda_). Those who perform the sacrifices are not fit to
hear the Upani@sads and those who are fit to hear the Upani@sads
have no longer any necessity to perform the sacrificial duties.]

[Footnote 2: When the Sa@mhita texts had become substantially fixed,
they were committed to memory in different parts of the country and
transmitted from teacher to pupil along with directions for the
practical performance of sacrificial duties. The latter formed the
matter of prose compositions, the Brahma@nas. These however were
gradually liable to diverse kinds of modifications according to the
special tendencies and needs of the people among which they were recited.
Thus after a time there occurred a great divergence in the readings of
the texts of the Brahma@nas even of the same Veda among different people.
These different schools were known by the name of particular S'akhas
(e.g. Aitareya, Kau@sitaki) with which the Brahma@nas were associated
or named. According to the divergence of the Brahma@nas of the different
S'akhas there occurred the divergences of content and the length of the
Upani@sads associated with them.]

31

form the Taittiriya and Mahanaraya@na, of the Ka@tha school
the Ka@thaka, of the Maitraya@ni school the Maitraya@ni. The
B@rhadara@nyaka Upani@sad forms part of the S'atapatha Brahma@na
of the Vajasaneyi schools. The Is'a Upani@sad also belongs to the
latter school. But the school to which the S'vetas'vatara belongs
cannot be traced, and has probably been lost. The presumption
with regard to these Upani@sads is that they represent the
enlightened views of the particular schools among which they
flourished, and under whose names they passed. A large number
of Upani@sads of a comparatively later age were attached to the
Atharva-Veda, most of which were named not according to the
Vedic schools but according to the subject-matter with which
they dealt [Footnote ref 1].

It may not be out of place here to mention that from the
frequent episodes in the Upani@sads in which the Brahmins are
described as having gone to the K@sattriyas for the highest knowledge
of philosophy, as well as from the disparateness of the
Upani@sad teachings from that of the general doctrines of the
Brahma@nas and from the allusions to the existence of philosophical
speculations amongst the people in Pali works, it may be
inferred that among the K@sattriyas in general there existed earnest
philosophic enquiries which must be regarded as having exerted
an important influence in the formation of the Upani@sad doctrines.
There is thus some probability in the supposition that though the
Upani@sads are found directly incorporated with the Brahma@nas
it was not the production of the growth of Brahmanic dogmas
alone, but that non-Brahmanic thought as well must have either
set the Upani@sad doctrines afoot, or have rendered fruitful assistance
to their formulation and cultivation, though they achieved
their culmination in the hands of the Brahmins.

Brahma@nas and the Early Upani@sads.

The passage of the Indian mind from the Brahmanic to the
Upani@sad thought is probably the most remarkable event in the
history of philosophic thought. We know that in the later Vedic
hymns some monotheistic conceptions of great excellence were
developed, but these differ in their nature from the absolutism of
the Upani@sads as much as the Ptolemaic and the Copernican

_____________________________________________________________________

Book of the day: